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Buddhism set for official recognition in Belgium

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(TibetanReview.net, Mar18’23) – The federal government of Belgium has approved a draft law on Mar 17 which opened the door to federal funding, official delegates, and school classes for Buddhism, and set the stage for the religion’s official recognition by the country’s parliament, reported Reuters Mar 17.

It noted that the Belgian Buddhist Union had requested recognition in Mar 2006. The union was stated to estimate the number of Buddhists in Belgium at 150,000.

Belgium is home to around 6,000 Tibetans, the vast majority of them Buddhists who sought asylum in the country in recent years. It also has several Buddhist centres, most of them set up decades ago.

The only other European Union country where Buddhism is recognized is Austria, the report said.

Belgium is currently stated to have six officially recognized worship services: the Roman Catholic, the Orthodox, the Israelite, the Anglican, the Protestant Evangelical and the Islamic, recognized in 1974.

The report said Buddhism would be recognized as “a non-denominational philosophical organization” alongside organized secularism, recognized since 2002. It would receive federal funding of up to 1.2 million euros.

Once voted by the Parliament, the law will pave the way to the creation of local institutions, to the sending of Buddhist delegates in ports and airports, in prisons, in the army, hospitals, the opening of Buddhism courses in official education alongside teaching of the other worships services, the report said.

All Belgian provinces and the Brussels Region would then also have to each finance a local Buddhist centre, the report added.


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